issue in this case is whether employees who participated in a § 657(e) inspection tour must be compensated by their employer for time spent on the tour. For reasons set forth infra, the Court finds that such compensation is not required.
Plaintiffs are employed by the Mobil Oil Corporation at its Paulsboro, New Jersey refinery. Pursuant to a request by their union, the Acting Regional Administrator of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration directed an inspection of the refinery. The inspection took place at periodic intervals over twenty-one days during the last quarter of 1971. Pursuant to § 657(e), plaintiffs were selected by their union as representatives authorized by the employees to participate in so-called walkaround inspections of the Company's premises. During the walkarounds, plaintiffs were accompanied by federal inspectors and representatives of the Company. The Company initially paid plaintiffs for time spent on the early walkarounds but later changed its policy with the result that none of the plaintiffs received compensation for time spent on walkarounds covering the final twelve days of inspections. All walkarounds occurred during normal working hours.
Plaintiffs contend they are due compensation for the walkarounds under the Fair Labor Standards Act (hereinafter "FLSA") 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., as amended, which requires the payment of a minimum wage to "employees who in any workweek [are] engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. . . ." 29 U.S.C. § 206(a). It is plaintiffs' position that the time spent on the walkarounds constituted compensable "hours worked" under the scope of the FLSA.
The Supreme Court has interpreted the FLSA to embrace time spent in "physical or mental exertion (whether burdensome or not) controlled or required by the employer and pursued necessarily and primarily for the benefit of the employer and his business." Tennessee Coal Co., v. Muscoda Local 123, 321 U.S. 590, 598, 88 L. Ed. 949, 64 S. Ct. 698 (1944). The hours worked in Tennessee comprised the time spent by miners traveling underground to and from the place in the mine where the ore was drilled and loaded. The Court noted:
"Such travel, furthermore, is not primarily undertaken for the convenience of the miners and bears no relation whatever to their needs or to the distance between their homes and the mines. Rather the travel time is spent for the benefit of petitioners and their iron ore mining operations." Id. at 599.